Category Archives: LIFE ON BOARD

Fishing at Antwerp anchorage

Fishing in Anvers

All the seafarers tend to get a little excited and even happy when they hear about the prospects of a few day anchorage, especially when it is going to take place in a temperate or warm climate. This doesn’t mean that the work stops on the vessel, but on the contrary. Sometimes a few day anchorage is the only solution for the crew to perform some maintenance jobs on deck, in ship’s cargo holds (if these are empty) or in the engine room, jobs which cannot be done or which are more difficult to deal with when the engine is running.

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Baptism on board HS Beethoven (March 2015)

Baptism ceremony

 

Being on the vessel for the first time or crossing the Equator are both great opportunities for seafarers to receive blessings and show respect towards the Gods of Sea. It is a very important event in the life of seafarers and passengers alike and it must be celebrated accordingly. 

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A new leisure activity on board

Leisure activity on board

Time is passing faster on board if you choose to spend it doing the things you like best. I am talking about the free time, because working hours are just for working and they pass very hard, no matter what you are doing – keeping the navigational watch, working on deck, in the galley or in the engine – regardless of the weather, the outside scenery, the latitude or the date in the calendar.

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Why is a ship called a ‘she’?

English grammar taught me that nouns (and pronouns) can be classified in three distinct genders according to the forms taken by the adjectives they can associate with and I remember how I used to distinguish them when I was in school. It was not very difficult, as English is a very friendly and far more logical language (at least regarding this specific area) compared with German (for example) where nouns can belong to very different genders that the ones they should. I will never understand why a ‘perfectly’ female noun like ‘girl – Madchen’ is neuter in gender in the German language (das Madchen) and not feminine as it is in other languages. Anyhow, some things are better left unexplained and people like us should comply with all the rules and regulations any language is based on in order to speak and understand it properly.

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On board activities

Leisure activities on board

Social life on board a cargo vessel is very important from my point of view because it can offer seafarers a certain degree of amusement, closer to the ‘normality’ they are all used to when they are ashore. After a hard day of work, between two ports or during long passages, seafarers have the time to enjoy a few hours of leisure activities in the common spaces, like Recreation Rooms, in big or small groups. Even if these leisure activities are nothing more than a few hours spent in the company of your fellow seamen while watching a movie and sharing a glass of wine after dinner is certainly the sort of activity you wait for all day long, in order to relax and see the more optimistic side of life.

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Celebrating Easter on board HS Beethoven

Easter on board

Holidays on board are always welcome and must be celebrated with joy and (at least) a festive dinner where all the crew can get together to share a glass and a nice conversation. Last year I spent Easter on board HS Bruckner in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea, underway to Malta and in the middle of a joyful team of Romanians, Montenegrins and Filipinos. Both the Catholic and the Orthodox Easters were celebrated in the same day and everybody was more than happy to take part in the event and get involved in the preparations as much as possible.

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Visiting home ports

More than 25 years ago most of Romanian seafarers used to join their vessels in one of our local ports and they usually came back – at the end of their very long contracts – in the same ports, too. Coming to the home port by ship used to be the normal routine for a few thousands seamen who didn’t have to worry at all about their transportation when they were embarking or disembarking as their trip from ship to home (or the other way around) lasted at most for few hours and it didn’t involved any plane.

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Fishing at Piraeus anchorage

Staying at anchorage for a few days is not a good option for a passenger who is travelling on board a container vessel – and who is paying for every day of his/her voyage – but for the crew it is a very good opportunity to slow down their rhythm and change the daily routine.

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Halloween Party on board HS Debussy

Halloween party on board

Halloween is the funniest celebration that can take place on board. Most people may think Halloween is a children’s type of holiday, but when you are on the vessel – away from your family and friends – you are allowed to have your part of fun and a distraction like this can be the best and easiest alternative. Having fun – from time to time – is a way of recharging the batteries after a hard week of work and preparing yourself for a next one. The more people involved in the event, the funnier it could get and even the evenings that follow can be brighten up by the hundreds of photos and videos everybody shares with everybody.

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Unexpected guests on board (Puerto Deseado)

In the winter of 2012, I was on board HS Liszt, sailing between Uruguay and Argentina. In the most Southern Port – Puerto Deseado (Argentina) – we arrived after the departure of Magellan Penguins and we could only see lots of birds and few sea lions. However, here I witnessed the most courageous jump ever performed by a sea lion.

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